How to Fish a River System

Breaking Down a River

When fishing a river system there are many different options to choose from depending on the location you are in. Rivers offer a diverse fishery that many people seem to enjoy. When breaking down a river there are many factors to take into consideration. First, you need to identify the species of fish you are targeting. It’s critical to under\stand the many of depths you will be presented with when river fishing. Most rivers will consist of one main depth throughout most of the river. Although, when fishing a river there are also deeper holes you can fish that will hold large portions of fish (if you find them). When breaking down a river I like to spend time doing online research before entering the water. Most rivers will have a mapping system you can access online for a cheap price.

River species 

Typically the river systems I fish here in southern Wisconsin are fairly shallows and small in size. These rivers tend to hold good populations of pinfish and smallmouth bass. You can also look to find channel cats, blue cats and bullhead catfish stacked up in most river systems. Rivers offer a large variety when it comes to fish to catch. Late fall you have the opportunity to catch king salmon out of the Lake Michigan tributaries. Going into early spring you can look to find steelhead and walleye on the move for their spring spawning migrations. This opportunity can present some of the most exciting experiences when fishing a river. When fishing further north in the Hayward Wisconsin area, you then have the opportunity at catching river musky. River musky in my opinion is one of the most challenging yet rewarding fish to pursue. When it comes to river musky, my favorite lures to use are either a small bucktail or a topwater lure. Expect a vicious attack from a river musky when hitting the bait.


It’s important to keep in mind when targeting river fish that you are equipped with the correct tackle. Rivers are full of snags and tangles that can turn a good fishing day into a nightmare fast.  I like to rig up a few rods when entering a river, braided line is critical. You want to be prepared with a line that can take the harsh elements of the heavy flowing river. Rivers have some of the largest variety of fish to be caught. Not only do you get the opportunity to catch fish, you get to adventure a large area of water. Be sure to bring extra tackle when fishing a river, you are likely to lose a lure or two. I highly recommend the art of fishing a river system; you never know what you’ll catch. Not only do rivers offer beautiful scenery, but an amazing experience while catching some fish.

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